|WHO WE ARE - MECHANICS|
Without our highly trained helicopter maintenance staff, the pilots and paramedics of the Air Operations Section would not be able to carry out their daily duties which include performing technical rescues, transporting trauma patients, and fighting Wildland fires.
The Air Operations helicopter maintenance staff is comprised of (10) mechanics, (2) senior mechanics, (2) helicopter inspectors, and (1) chief of helicopter maintenance. The helicopter maintenance staff performs scheduled and unscheduled maintenance to the Department’s aircraft fleet which includes (1) light, (4) medium and (3) heavy type helicopters.
Air Operations Section mechanics are all highly trained professionals. Helicopter maintenance mechanics are required to have an Airframe and Power Plant certificate. This certification requires 2 years of training at a trade school, or 3 years experience as an apprentice to be signed off by a supervisor. All are required to pass a 4 part test administered by the FAA.
Before applying to work for Air Operations all mechanics must have three years' (full-time paid) experience within the last five years in the repair and maintenance of turbine powered helicopters, including Bell 212's/412's, Sikorsky UH-60's/S-70A's. One year of the required experience must have been in: a) responsible charge of repairs and overhauls to return "certificated" helicopters to flight status in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration Regulations and manufacturer requirements -or- b) responsible charge of repairs and overhauls to return "non-certificated" helicopters to flight status in compliance with manufacturer requirements in either a Department of Defense/U.S. Military or private contractor environment.
Most Air Operations Mechanics have gained their experience in the logging industry, with contract fire aircraft or in the military.
Air Operation’s Mechanics are sent to continuing education training to keep current on their skills. Training includes Bell 412 School, Sikorsky Blackhawk training, Pratt & Whitney Engine training, General Electric Engine training as well as other courses required by OSHA and the FAA.
To ensure the highest degree of safety for our personnel and the public, the maintenance staff meets and often times exceeds the requirements set forth by the FAA when performing scheduled maintenance. Inspections are performed on all Department aircraft daily. Scheduled maintenance is performed at 50,100, 300, and 600 hour intervals on the Bell 412’s. On the Firehawks, this maintenance is performed at 10, 30, 50, 100,150, 250 and 500 hour intervals. This maintenance includes inspections, overhauls and repair of the airframe and powerplant as well as replacement of components as required.
Because the Department’s helicopters are used in a “multi-mission” role, additional equipment is mounted or fixed on the aircraft. This equipment includes the 360 gallon water and foam tanks mounted on the Bell 412’s, 1000 gallon water and foam tanks on the Firehawks, rescue hoists, “night suns’” (aerial search lights) and EMS interior equipment. Department helicopter mechanics must have an excellent working knowledge of this additional equipment. They are responsible to maintain and repair all equipment that is fixed or mounted on the aircraft.
Often times, Department helicopters are called to operate in extremely harsh environments. These include responses to Catalina over the Pacific Ocean, brown out conditions in the deserts of the Antelope Valley, swift water rescues in severe winter storms and the hot and smokey atmosphere above brush fires. Because of the demand on these helicopters, they often require unscheduled maintenance. Therefore, the helicopter maintenance staff must be available 24/7 to work on the aircraft. Often times, this requires the helicopter mechanics that travel to remote locations of the County to perform maintenance out in the field.
All Air Operations helicopter mechanics share a great sense of pride in knowing that their hard work and long hours keep the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s helicopters in service and available to serve the citizen's of Los Angeles County.